As soon as my boots made contact with the wooden 'stage', I took a deep breath to calm my racing nerves as I gathered the courage to do what I had to. "Before I go on, do any of you have any questions?" I asked, turning my attention to Token as he raised his hand in the air. "Yes, Token?" I asked as I waited for his question. "We already sort of knew you weren't normal like the rest of us, and now: Kyle says you have a power we don't understand. So, what exactly are you?" he asked as everyone had their eyes glued to me as they anxiously waited for my reply.
'This is it: it's now or never.' I thought as I bit my lip before deciding that there was no turning back now as I stared at the kids in front of me. "To put it simply: I'm a shapeshifter. I can turn into anyone or anything: but there ARE rules: rules that are too disturbing to explain. No, I can't turn into one of you without playing by those rules so don't ask me to. I was experimented on and given these 'abilities' by a scientific facility called Gentek by my parent's request: I am a weapon that can either save the world or destroy it, which is why those soldiers were at the school last night. Stan and Kyle know the rest of how I came to be what I am now, and I'd rather not explain it again and give you all nightmares, so don't ask me to do that either." I said as they either stared at me in disbelief, or like I was crazy.
"That's bullshit! People can't do that: and even if they could, how come YOU are the one that gets to do it?! If you're really what you say you are…then prove it right now: change into something!" the elven Commander demanded as he stood from his seat: jealous rage burning in his green eyes. "Okay." I said seriously, surprising the kid as he probably expected me to give up the charade and say it was all a joke. Closing my eyes, I focused on every detail of what I wanted to turn into before the biomass began eating away at my costume and features: causing the kids to pretty much lose their shit at the sight of the black-cherry and glowing red virus as it engulfed my entire form in a writhing mass of bio-organic vines.
Once the change was complete, the virus retreated…revealing the form I chose to become, clear for everyone to see. Instead of a nine-year-old, they now stared at a fully-grown black panther with burning emerald eyes. My fur was a shiny ebony-black with darker spots that almost looked blue in the sunlight, my paws were the size of dinner plates with five razor-sharp claws hidden inside my toes. My body was lean and muscular with a long whip-like tail swishing slowly behind me.
The cold Colorado breeze was making the long dark whiskers on my face twitch along with my small fluffy ears. My belly had turned an ash-gray and my legs had become double-jointed: like any big cat. My nose had flattened and turned a soft, midnight-black color that was able to pick up smells a human normally wouldn't be able to. Getting tired of standing, I leaned back and sat on my haunches as my tail curled around all four of my legs and 'thumped' softly against the wooden platform. With a feline yawn: I exposed my three-inch long canine teeth and my Velcro-like tongue as I waited patiently for the shock to wear off my friends.
'Well…this is awkward.' I thought as the silence seemed to stretch on forever, before shockingly: Tweek grew some balls and shakenly stood from his seat. "N-NICE…nrrgh…KITTY!" he spazzed, making my ears flatten at the loud noise but waited for him to come to me. It took a ridiculous amount of time, but when Tweek finally came within touching distance: I stood up and gave his shaking, out-stretched hand a lick.
Even though I grimaced at the taste of coffee, I continued to reassure Tweek I was in control and wasn't going to bite him as he twitched violently before petting me like a housecat. "Holy…fucking…shit." Eric said, not really knowing what to say as the fear and shock stuck to the boys like a neon sign. Since Tweek was getting braver the longer he saw I wasn't doing anything to him: Kenny and Butters stood from their seats on shaky legs and approached me too. As soon as they put their hands on me, I raised my chin up and started purring: drawing a laugh out of each of them.
"Yeah, there's a buddy." Butters said as he gave my ears a scratch: causing my back foot to twitch and kick. 'Whatever way to help them cope with this works for me: even if it's embarrassing as hell, I mean come ON: twitchy foot and purring?!' I thought in distain as one-by-one the kids got up from their seats and started petting me, until none but Eric remained in the chairs. "Saphira…dude, you are officially the most badass friend ever." Stan said, making me chuff and bump my forehead into him: using feline body language because I couldn't talk in this form.
Glancing at Eric, I noticed he was still frozen in his seat: making me stand up and stalked toward him through the snow with feline grace: my solid-black fur a sharp contrast to the pure, fresh snow on the grass. It wasn't until I was three feet in front of him did he react: and unlike the other kids, he scrambled away from me like I was going to eat him or something: the kind of reaction I expected from them in the first place. It hurt to watch him swing his staff at me, but all I had to do was snatch the stick in my teeth and pull it from his shaking grip.
With flattened ears, I watched as he cried in terror and tried to use one of the metal folding chairs as a weapon, only to have me jump to the side as he threw it at me while crying for his mother. "Cartman, dude! That's Saphira! She isn't going to eat you." Stan yelled, trying to get through to the fat kid as he fell backwards on his ass and scooched away until he came into contact with the side of the house. Swishing my tail, I carefully approached him again as he pulled off his hat and tried to hide behind it: ignoring how the icy ground was making my paw-pads turn numb as I walked in the snow.
'If this situation wasn't as serious as it is, I'd use this shit as blackmail.' I thought as I quickly lunged forward and snatched Eric's hat: pissing him off and making him completely forget about his fear as I tossed it into the air and caught it on top of my head: making me look like a giant witch's cat. "Hey you bitch! That's MY hat!" he yelled as he stood back up and tried to grab his hat back, only to have me narrow my eyes at him and raise my head out of his reach. "Now this is blackmail material." I heard from behind me as well as multiple voices laughing.
"EY! FUCK YOU KAHL!" Eric shouted as he tried to grab his hat again as I tossed it and grabbed it in my teeth again. "God dammit MacManus! Give me my fucking hat!" he snarled as I turned around and bounded several feet away from him before turning back around and crouched low to the snowy ground. 'You want it, come and get it.' I thought as I narrowed my emerald eyes daringly, my tail swishing slowly to the sides tauntingly as Eric glared at me before jumping at the hat in my mouth: only to get a face full of snow as I leapt to the side and out of his reach.
"Son of a bitch!" he growled as everyone laughed their asses off at him: some even falling over on themselves as he tried time and again to get his hat from me…only to fail miserably each time. 'Okay, fun time's over.' I thought as I gripped the hat tighter in my teeth before running in a gallop, leapt into the air, and climbed up the tree effortlessly with my sharp claws. Once I got past the treehouse and to the very top, I tangled Eric's hat in the branches before jumping on the roof of Kyle's treehouse.
"Good luck getting your hat back, Cartman." Kenny laughed as I stretched before laying on the roof of the treehouse with my right front paw dangling over the side as I lounged with a smug look on my face. "No Kitty! That's a BAD KITTY!" Eric yelled in a whiny voice as he hopped up and down on the ground at the base of the tree: as if that would somehow get his hat to fall. Glancing down at the boys, I sent Kenny a one-eyed wink before 'thumping' a nearby branch with my tail lazily: sending the mound of collected snow to drop from the tree and land directly on top of the Grand Wizard.
Panting while chuffing, I gave my own version of a laugh as the boys rolled on the ground holding their sides as the sound of hysterical laughter rang throughout the backyard. As he fought his way out of the snow, he choked and sputtered as he threw curses at me left and right: demanding me to 'respect his authoritay' as well as return him his hat as I gave one more feline stretch before ordering the virus to change my form back. As I once again became cloaked in biomass, I cracked my back before leaning over the edge of the roof and stared at Eric's pissed-off face.
"What's that? I'm afraid I can't hear you!" I called to him, making his face turn purple in rage as he stamped his feet and kicked the snow in anger. "I said: GIVE ME BACK MY FUCKING HAT YOU FUCKIN' BITCH!" he screamed, scaring away songbirds and passerby alike: to which I laughed at. "Only if you don't call me a monster anymore." I bribed, snickering as he grumbled before reluctantly agreeing without looking me in the face. 'May as well: not like I'm going to get much better from him anyway.' I thought as I stood up and gave the tree a good, solid kick: shaking the entire tree and freeing the hat from its trapped state.
Jumping forward in a quick front-flip, I snatched the hat before twisting my body like a gymnast and landed at the base of the tree in a crouch: swelling with pride at the awe-struck looks on the boys' faces as I handed Eric his hat back. Snatching it rudely from my grip, he slammed it back down on his head before glaring at us as we laughed at the pouty expression on his face. "Fuck you guys." he growled as he slumped back down in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest: grumbling about 'teeth marks' in his hat I knew I didn't leave. "Now that THAT'S out of the way: I'd like to also point out that the military that are guarding this 'Taco Bell' are working with the group that's after me. And since I can literally turn into anyone, they will most-likely treat any one of you like they would treat me." I said, nodding slightly as some of the kids put two-and-two together and gulped nervously: while Butters started cheering and clapping his hands.
"Oh boy! Isn't that neat fellas? The military is gonna treat us super-duper nice! Maybe they'll give us free cake and ice cream and cancel bedtime for all of us! That's what they're gonna do right, Saphira? Treat us nice, like how you're nice?" he asked with a hopeful look on his face as a twinge of pain raced through me as I imagined how they would treat poor Butters.
Swallowing, I turned from the sweet kid and refused to make eye-contact with everybody as I heard footsteps walk up next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Kenny cocking his head at me before resting a gloved hand on my shoulder and led me away from the rest of the kids: both of us flipping off Eric as he starting laughing and making obnoxious gagging noises. Once we were out of earshot of everyone, I wiped my eyes with a sniff before looking out the back gate and at the houses my friends lived in.
"I should never have come here. If I didn't, you guys would have been safe from the true meaning of evil." I mumbled as Kenny sent me a pitying look before glancing down at his feet. "But then we wouldn't have known you. So what if you showed up with problems? Everybody has those: but not everybody has a friend like you: I mean, how many people can do the things you do and actually takes time out of their days to have friends like us?." he said as he gave me a hug before smacking me upside my head to snap me out of my dark cloud.
"Dude: that's some deep shit, and people say you're perverted and goofy. I'm surprised you're not trying to 'woo' me as Stan and Kyle so-lovely put it." I said as his face scrunched up before sending a leer in the boys' direction. "I can be respectful when I want to be, besides: you're out of my league and I can respect that. Doesn't mean I'd leave you alone though." he said with a flirtatious wink: making me laugh and playfully shove him aside as he turned around and held his hands to his heart in an overly-dramatic gesture.
As the rest of the kids behind us continued to plan against Clyde and his army, my attention was suddenly stolen by an ominous, low-rumbling sound in the distance. I may not know very much about the outside world, but it didn't take a genius to figure out what was making that noise…or figure out that the source was getting closer.